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Does a stay extend the date for service of the claim form?

View profile for Sarah Duffy
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Can you extend the date for service of the Claim Form by entering into a Stay? This pertinent question was answered recently in the Court of Appeal decision in the case of Grant v Dawn Meats (UK) [2018] ECA Civ 2212.

Background

The Claimant was employed by the Defendant and was injured in an accident at work in September 2013. As a result, the Claimant pursued a claim against the Defendant. Liability was admitted but the parties were unable to agree the quantum. The Claimant then issued a part 8 claim to determine the quantum.

The part 8 claim was issued on 24 June 2016. As the Claimant did not have up to date medical evidence, the Claimant requested a stay of proceedings. The stay was granted by Order dated 7 July 2016. The stay was due to expire on 7 October 2016, but the court extended the stay until 30 November 2016.

The claim form was eventually served on 6 March 2017. The Defendant applied for a declaration that the claim form had been served out of time on the basis that it had not been served within four months of the claim being issued.

Court of First Instance Decision and Appeal

The Court of first instance disagreed with the Defendant, concluding that the stay applied to service of the claim form as well as other procedural steps within the claim.

This decision was successfully appealed by the Defendant, which led to the Claimant referring the matter to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal determined that a stay has the effect of pausing all proceedings. Accordingly, no actions or steps are required by the parties during the stay period and, once the stay is lifted, the clock starts to tick again for any limitation matters, such as the service of a claim form.

In this case, the stay had been granted 13 days after proceedings were issued. When the stay was lifted on 30 November 2016, the Claimant then had the remainder of the 4 months (minus the 13 days) within which to serve proceedings. Proceedings were, therefore, found to have been served within time.

Summary

Whilst the above circumstances may be familiar to many practitioners and the decision may have been expected to fall in favour of the Claimant, the Court of Appeal decision is a useful confirmation of the power of a stay.

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